​Food bank users have ‘drug, alcohol & mental health problems’ – Tory councilor

A volunteer sorts through donations of food at the Hammersmith and Fulham food bank run by the Trussell Trust in London (AFP Photo)
A Conservative councilor has faced a Twitter storm after claiming people who rely on food banks have “drug, alcohol and mental health problems.”

Mark Winn, who represents Bedgrove on Aylesbury Vale District Council in Buckinghamshire, made the comments while watching an episode of the BBC drama series Casualty on Saturday night.

Winn, who is also a civil servant with the Ministry of Defence, was reacting to the episode’s storyline where a young mother who is suspected of being a drug addict is actually suffering from malnutrition.

In the episode of the hospital drama, a nurse told a woman: “You're not a bad mother. It's the system that's wrong – it's unforgiveable.

Reacting to the storyline, Winn tweeted: “See BBC are up to supporting Labour propaganda rubbish, the people visiting foodbanks are those with drug, alcohol + mental health problems.

Questioned over his comments, Winn told the BBC: “I really should have said ‘some’ people have addictions or mental health problems that might use food banks.

Twitter users nevertheless responded with fierce criticism.

Winn has since deleted the tweet and suspended his account since the backlash, which he described in an interview with the Independent as a “politically motivated campaign” of “abuse” against him.

Phill Gomm, a UKIP Councillor on Aylesbury Vale District Council, described the comments as “inhuman.”

His comments are extremely distasteful and also discriminate against others. A letter of complaint is being made to the AVDC leader requesting his resignation for his inhuman comments,” he said.

However Gomm’s colleague, UKIP Councillor Phil Yerby, supported Winn’s comments.

In a statement, Winn said: “I wish to apologize if I caused offense to people with my remark on Twitter regarding food banks.

I fully appreciate the need for food banks for the use of people in need whatever their personal circumstances and I salute the work that staff in them do. I will be privately visiting a local food bank in the next couple of weeks to see for myself the work they do.